Thursday, December 22, 2005

Now THIS will get VERY interesting

This seemed to be a spoof when I first heard about it but it checks out legitimate (at least as far as I can tell). In the Catholic World News, read this incredible decision:

The First Amendment to the US Constitution "does not demand a wall of separation between church and state," a federal court has ruled.

In a surprising decision this week, the 6th Circuit US Court of Appeals approved the display of the Ten Commandments in a Kentucky county. In writing the decision for a unanimous court, Just Richard Suhrheinrich rejected the arguments of lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union (ALCU), which protested the display. The judge wrote: "The ACLU makes repeated reference to the 'separation of church and state.' This extra-constitutional construct has grown tiresome."

The phrase "separation of church and state" does not appear anywhere in the US Constitution, the judge observed. He added that American history "is replete with governmental acknowledgment and in some cases, accommodation of religion."

The story also appears here as part of the Associated Press wires.

Plus, you can read a PDF of the actual court opinion here.

Obviously, this will be making the appeals circuit but there is hope that the PC Police will finally have their bullet removed from their shirt pocket.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Should've chanted the mantra a few more times

Bruce Wilkinson of "Prayer of Jabez" fame has made the Wall Street Journal - but not for good reasons. It seems he tried to "expand his territory" in Africa and it all fell apart. Here are some quotes from the WSJ article:
In 2002 Bruce Wilkinson, a Georgia preacher whose self-help prayer book had made him a rich man, heard God's call, moved to Africa and announced his intention to save one million children left orphaned by the AIDS epidemic.

In October, Mr. Wilkinson resigned in a huff from the African charity he founded. He abandoned his plan to house 10,000 children in a facility that was to be an orphanage, bed-and-breakfast, game reserve, bible college, industrial park and Disneyesque tourist destination in the tiny kingdom of Swaziland.

What happened in between is a story of grand hopes and inexperience, divine inspiration and human foibles. Mr. Wilkinson won churchloads of followers in Swaziland, but left them bereft and confused. He gained access to top Swazi officials, but alienated them with his demands. And his departure left critics convinced he was just another in a long parade of outsiders who have come to Africa making big promises and quit the continent when local people didn't bend to their will.

This is a very sad story that went horribly wrong at some point. Perhaps it was in the asking
for the $190 million Christian resort!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Just a little . . . provacative, dontcha think?

The Church Without Walls in Tampa, Florida has obviously had enough of the Christmas/Holiday controversy. They erected THIS billboard to voice their point of view!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Richard Scarry books - changes are scary indeed!

Do you remember those Richard Scarry books you read as a child? They have gone through some major changes in the years since you were a tyke - mostly of the politically correct type.

The Physics of Santa Claus

There are approximately two billion children (persons under 18) in the world. However, since Santa does not visit children of Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, or Buddhist religions, this reduces the workload for Christmas night to 15% of the total, or 378 million (according to the Population Reference Bureau).

At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that comes to 108 million homes, presuming that there is at least one good child in each. Santa has about 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west (which seems logical). This works out to 967.7 visits per second.

This is to say that for each Christian household with a good child, Santa has 1/1000th of a second to park the sleigh, hop out, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left for him, get back up the chimney, jump into the sleigh, and get on to the next house.

Assuming that each of these 108 million stops is evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false, but will accept for the purposes of our calculations), we are now talking about 0.78 miles per household; a total trip of 75.5 million miles, not counting bathroom stops or breaks. This means Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, 3,000 times the speed of sound.

For purposes of comparison, the fastest man-made vehicle, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles per second, and a conventional reindeer can run (at best) 15 miles per hour. The payload of the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium sized Lego set (two pounds), the sleigh is carrying over 500,000 tons, not counting Santa himself.

On land, a conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting a "flying" reindeer could pull ten times the normal amount, the job can't be done with eight or even nine of them. Santa would need 360,000 of them. This increases the payload, not counting the weight of the sleigh, another 54,000 tons. 600,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance.

This would heat up the reindeer in the same fashion as a spacecraft reentering the earth's atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer would absorb 14.3 quintillion joules of energy per second each. In short, they would bust into flames almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them and creating deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team would be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second, or right about the time Santa reached the fifth house on his trip.

Not that it matters, however, since Santa, as a result of accelerating from a dead stop to 650 miles per second in .001 seconds, would be subjected to centrifugal forces of 17,500 g's. A 250 pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of the sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force, instantly crushing his bones and organs, and reducing him to a quivering blob of pink goo.

Therefore, if Santa did exist, he's dead now.

Merry Christmas!

I read this for the first time way back in 1999 but it still is an interesting take on the whole thing.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

More thoughts on Christmas

In the post immediately below this one, I wrote about some mega-churches that decided to cancel the Sunday morning worship services on Christmas day. This article quotes some "mega-church officials" from around the country. Mega-church "officials"??? Here's one: Willow Creek spokeswoman Cally Parkinson said, "It's more than being family-friendly. It's being lifestyle-friendly for people who are just very, very busy. Organizing services on a Christmas Sunday would not be the most effective use of staff and volunteer resources. The last time Christmas fell on a Sunday was 1994, and only a small number of people showed up to pray."

Yeah, sure wouldn't want to waste staff resources if less than 500 show up to do something as meaningless as pray. Please wait a minute while I take my tongue out of my cheek!

From that article, a different perspective comes to light: Fuller Theological Seminary professor Robert K. Johnston worries that another Christian tradition is fading. Fuller went on to say that "What's going on here is a redefinition of Christmas as a time of family celebration rather than as a time of the community faithful celebrating the birth of the savior. There is a risk that we will lose one more of our Christian rituals, one that's at the heart of our faith."

David Wells, professor of history and systematic theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a leading evangelical school in South Hamilton, Mass, brought the point home clearly: "This is a consumer mentality at work: `Let's not impose the church on people. Let's not make church in any way inconvenient,' I think what this does is feed into the individualism that is found throughout American culture, where everyone does their own thing."

Dr. Ben Witherington had some scathing remarks:
Our culture does not need any encouragement to be more self-centered and narcissistic or to stay at home on Sunday. It is already that way. Christmas above all else should be a day when we come together as the body of Christ to worship and adore the Lord Jesus. Christmas should be the day above all days where we don't stay home and open all those things we bought for ourselves INSTEAD of going to church. Christmas should be the day when we forget about ourselves for a few hours and go and honor the birthday of the great King, our Savior.

What we are dealing with here are churches whose priorities are so askew that they somehow think it is more important for the church to serve the wants of the physical family than the other way around. This is a far cry from the pattern of the original disciples of Jesus who were seen leaving homes, relatives, jobs to come and follow Jesus. What kind of message does it send to our culture when churches close on one of its highest holy days? That it is o.k. to stay home and do one's own thing even on Jesus' birthday?

All of this made me think:

  1. If these churches are cancelling Christmas, shouldn't the Christians in that church be upset and threaten to boycott the church. That's what they would do if Wal-Mart was closed on Christmas. What? Wal-Mart IS closed on Christmas Day? Now I really am mad - what if I need that last minute gift for my second cousin?
  2. I wonder if it is the same "Christians" who go down to Lowe's and throw a conniption about "Holiday Trees" who later complain about being too "busy" to attend church on Christmas day? Isn't it interesting that as they are fighting for a holiday whose observance is not commanded in the Bible, some Christians are blatantly ignoring commands that are explicit in Scripture?
  3. If church members need "family time" on Christmas day, then what about Easter? That's a major time for families to gather. What about Mother's Day? Father's Day? Super Bowl Sunday? Shouldn't we be considerate of our families on these days as well?
  4. If people are too busy to attend church on Christmas day, they won't. But what about the many who desire to attend to the spiritual aspect of this allegedly Christian holiday. Cancelling Christmas services does not hinder those who would miss. It only hurts those who want to attend but now cannot.
  5. I read another make this interesting observation: Many churches place a major emphasis on the belief that church is to be designed for the "seeker" or non-believing attender. These "seekers" are the ones who are not connected in any way to the church and feel no obligation or desire to be in church when it is inconvenient. Therefore, since a majority of their "focus group" will not be in attendace, let's just cancel. All of that brings up a MAJOR problem - church is designed for the worshipper, the believer, the Christian. It is not designed for evangelism, although evangelism does and should take place when the service and text call for it. When unregenerate people are dictating how and when the Body of Christ meets and worships, we are hopelessly adrift.
  6. Many churches are rationalizing their decision by saying that they are having a service on December 24th. But a Christmas Eve service is "in addition to" not an "instead of" type of service.
  7. I also realize that it is a distinct possibility that the majority of people who complain about their own churches cancelling are the same people who most likely do nothing but sit in a pew on Sunday mornings and "enjoy the show." They know nothing of serving in a nursery or preschool classroom or teaching a group of adults or singing in the choir.
  8. It is my opionion that a church that would cancel all of Christmas services is not a church I would want to attend in the first place. Maybe we should encourage them to close more often - maybe permanently.
  9. I have to admit that the Bible nowhere demands that we worship on Sunday mornings or even Sunday for that matter. It is a convention drawn from principles and precedents seen in Scripture. Paul also noted that some have special days and others do not - to each his own, basically. However, what is the image put forth in the community by churches who do this? Even the lost know that churches meet for worship on Sunday. What must they think about churches that close their doors? Maybe they think "Christianity must not be all that important to these people if they can't be bothered to worship on even THIS day that even I realize has some importance behind it!"

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Willow Creek Church Cancels Christmas Services

From NBC5 out of Chicago, we read the following statement:

Members of one of the Chicago area's largest churches will have to find someplace else to go if they want to attend services on Christmas Day. The issues were resources," said Willow Creek Community Church spokeswoman Cally Parkinson.Parkinson said resources that would have gone toward a Christmas Day service in the auditorium would instead help the church offer a week of worship, culminating on Christmas Eve. There will also be a special spiritual DVD the congregation will be encouraged to watch at home on Christmas Day, NBC5's Jennifer Mitchell reported.
The article goes on to say that Willow Creek "has never held services on Christmas Day, except in 1994, when the holiday also fell on a Sunday. That year, only 1,500 people attended services. This year, the church expects at least 50,000 people to attend the eight services that will be offered between Dec. 20 and 24."

So, attending worship on December 25 is too inconvenient? For children of the King? Too busy to take time to meet as the Body of Christ?

Have we fallen so far that Christians have changed the emphasis on Christmas from a remembrance and celebration of the miracle of the incarcnation into "family time," which we all know really means "opening presents and playing with the new toys." Maybe we should just be honestly transparent and tell it like it is: we relish the idea of openly enjoying the sin of covetousness and materialism on the one day when it is deemed OK to do so. Attending a worship service would only "ruin the mood."

How's this for irony: Jesus said that life is not found in number of possessions that you own. He told us not to lay up treasures for ourselves on earth, but in heaven. Yet, the holiday that celebrates His birth provides the most consumeristic, materialistic season of the year (Ascol). We are no different - I guess now some are just willing to admit it.

Other mega-churches to follow suit include Mars Hill Bible Church (link is to newsletter in PDF format) in Grandville, Mich.; North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Ga. (Andy Stanley's church); Fellowship Church near Dallas (Ed Young's church, son of Ed Young from Second Baptist Houston); and Southland Christian Church near Lexington, Ky.

In looking at this page, I can't help but wonder at what transpired during the staff meeting! Who brought it up? What was the reaction? Did NO ONE stand up and question this decision? I try to imagine making this suggestion at Western Avenue!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Sleeping with the Enemy?

Phil Ryken at the Reformation 21 blog writes:

Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Walt Disney Pictures is offering a free trip to London and a thousand dollars in cash to the winner of its promotional sermon contest. To qualify, a sermon has to mention Disney's new Narnia film. So welcome to a new medium of marketing: the sermo-mercial. It would seem that something more than Aslan is on the move. I wonder: Would mentioning the film while decrying the absurdity of the promotion qualify one's sermon for the contest?
If any pastor does this, he has sold out the pulpit.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Local Church is F-Bombed

The blog run by the editors of Christianity Today and Leadership Journal have several articles about a pastor who made an incredible decision.

Mike Sares pastors a congregation called “Scum of the Earth” in Denver, Colorado. No, Scum of the Earth is not your typical congregation. Scum calls itself “a church for the right brained and the left out.” They embrace authenticity, creativity, and those who are on the margins of society.

It appears a young lady contacted Sares about sharing a poem in a worship service. She warned the pastor that the poem had about sixteen uses of the "F-word," probably the single most offensive word in the English language.

Sares eventually asked the poet to cut the offensive words by half, saying that "the poem was not a crude attempt at humor, and it was not immoral. In terms of obscenity, you’ve got to think of what might be considered obscene in your own congregation. In our setting, the F-bomb is just another noun/adjective/verb that expresses frustration for many people. It’s not cursing in terms of taking God’s name in vain, or asking God to damn someone to hell. This poem was being spoken as an honest hymn of redemption."

You can read the news and the fallout here:
  1. Original post
  2. The Fallout
  3. The poet speaks out
  4. The pastor responds

If Paul Crouch was consistent, TBN would be GONE!

Long-time prophetic extremist Hal Lindsey was recently booted from the TBN collection of televised shows. Lindsey hosted a show called "The International Intelligence Briefing where he brought "updated news on current world events and Bible prophecy." According to the TBN sitge, the International Intelligence Briefing uses cutting edge research and International News for all subject matter.

The whole matter is a mess:
After insisting the pre-emption of Hal Lindsey's television show had nothing to do with content, a Trinity Broadcasting Network spokesman retracted his statement, admitting officials were concerned, at least secondarily, about offending Arabs and Muslims. But now, after talking with network programming officials, he says a secondary reason for pre-empting the show was that it "placed Arabs in a negative light."
So far, no word yet on whether or not Paul Crouch and all of TBN has been cancelled for fear of offending the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Wrestle not with flesh and blood?!?

In yet another sign that the modern church has fallen far from the Reformation, a new ministry has been making the rounds: ULTIMATE CHRISTIAN WRESTLING! Yes, and once again I am nigh dumbfounded. The gentlemen here bought into a vision of UCW Founder Rob Adonis (real name: Rob Fields), who said:
"I had a vision that I could combine two of my passions, Professional Wrestling and Evangelism. I had always wanted to do something like UCW, but I did not have the “CALL” from God. I have always believed that God will reveal his desires and only then should you carry out his business. On June 3, 2003 I got that call. I felt the ability come over me. . ."
Adonis continues, proclaiming, "Our mission is simple. Our methods are unique. Our results are unquestionable. Welcome to the most Christ fired ministry going today. Welcome to The most unique blend of spirituality and entertainment ever brought together. Welcome to the Future."
If you look at their schedule, it appears they spend a lot of time at Harvest Church in Athens, Georgia - appearing on a monthly basis for several months at a time. This caught the attention of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (might have to register to read) who covered on of the nights of wrestling/violence/entertainment/violence(?), writing:

A loose network of pro and semipro wrestlers, UCW is the brainchild of Rob Fields, an otherwise mild-mannered English teacher at Woodstock High School. Fields, who lives in Canton, has been body-slamming for God since last summer and claims more than 200 souls saved.

At each UCW event, matches alternate with testimony, gospel and prayer. Fields' crew wrestles for little or no pay, and the boss takes no salary, using the love offering collected at weekly matches, plus sponsor support, to cover costs.

Witness Fields (aka "Rob Adonis"), a 6-foot-4, 285-pound package of ministerial menace, getting trounced by Lee "Lover Boy" Thomas, with a succession of choke holds, chin blasters and a thunderous flying leg drop from the top rope.

When Thomas and his manager, Mr. Evil, gang up on the hapless Adonis, pounding him and stealing his UCW belt, we have to wonder, is the first going to be last tonight?

What would Jesus do?

Very likely he might try the Adonis Suplex, a patented "finishing" move (in wrestling parlance) that sends Thomas crashing to the mat and puts the championship back in Adonis' hands.

"There are other ways, other than going to church, to get the word out," he said, adding that wrestling encompasses universal themes. "This is good and evil."


In one match a pair of bad guys had bested a babyface — a good guy — and were ready to power-bomb the fellow through a folding table when "Adonis" stepped in to offer himself as a Christ-like substitute. Boom. Through the table he went.

"How many Jesus Christ fans do we have in the house?" Adonis hollers after the finish, to a cheering response.

"There is only one reason we need to be making noise tonight," he tells the audience of about 200 gathered in the Zoom Town roller rink, somewhere amid the kudzu on the outskirts of Holly Springs, "and that is the Savior, our living Lord."

Tully Blanchard, Ric Flair's former partner in World Championship Wrestling, offered his own testimony during a break in the Holly Springs match and stood ready at the altar call — a regular feature of UCW events — to counsel any new believers. Though none approached the ring that evening, wrestling, he said later, can win souls that conventional worship can't. "If you're fishing, and you don't catch fish, change bait."

I wonder if the apostles ever thought of doing this? I imagine that James and John, the SONS OF THUNDER, would have made a pretty good tag-team in this ministry? I doubt they did and yet, somehow, they managed to turn the world upside down!

You just couldn't make this stuff up!

Can it get any crazier in the modern church? It appears a German Protestant youth group has undertaken a fundraising tactic that boggles the mind. I'll let the India Times explain:
A German Protestant youth group has put together a 2006 calendar with 12 staged photos depicting erotic scenes from the Bible, including a bare-breasted Delilah cutting Samson's hair and a nude Eve offering an apple.

"There's a whole range of biblical scriptures simply bursting with eroticism," said Stefan Wiest, the 32-year-old photographer who took the titillating pictures.

Anne Rohmer, 21, poses on a doorstep in garters and stockings as the prostitute Rahab, who is mentioned in both New and Old Testaments. "We wanted to represent the Bible in a different way and to interest young people," she told Reuters. "Anyway, it doesn't say anywhere in the Bible that you are forbidden to show yourself nude."

Bernd Grasser, pastor of the church in Nuremberg where the calendar is being sold, was enthusiastic about the project "It's just wonderful when teenagers commit themselves with their hair and their skin to the bible," he said.
Sadly, this group isn't the first, as you can see from these stories from the BBC:
  1. Assistant curate John Buchanan, of Holy Trinity Church, Barsham, hopes to raise £90,000 for the organ restoration fund by posing nude for a calendar. Assistant curate Buchanan said: "I recall that he (God) was wandering in the garden of Eden talking to two people who were starkers."

  2. A Gloucestershire vicar is lending his support to a nude calendar by displaying the images in his church. The Rev Stephen Earley from St Martins in Horsley, launched 'Exposed 2005' after a service on Sunday commemorating the genocide in Rwanda, Africa.

  3. The stars of a calendar featuring semi-naked builders in stages of undress, along with "spiritual words" underneath, produced to raise cash for a north Cornwall parish, have defended their vicar from criticism. Reverend Christine Musser, 48, who took over the seaside parish of Boscastle last year, revealed on Wednesday that she had received letters calling for her to resign after backing the calendar. Calendar producer Raymond Rogers praised the bravery of Mrs Musser, who appears on the front of the calendar backed by partially-clothed local builders. He said: "It was our idea to raise money for the parish. There's no way we would do anything to embarrass the Church." Rev Musser said: "Nudity and the Church are not traditionally linked, but to my mind, it was a group of guys who don't come to church, but are very much part of the community who wanted to show their support for their community church. How could I not support them?"

  4. Male members of a cathedral choir have stripped off for the second year running to produce a saucy calendar for charity. The "Heavenly Hunks" of Portsmouth Cathedral Choir Association are back by popular demand, according to the group. David Price, 33, organist and master of choristers, stripped to the waist in front of the organ pipes. "It is a refreshing story about the Church of England and a great example of some young guys doing something fun because of their membership of the church and of Portsmouth Cathedral Choir." The Bishop of Portsmouth, The Right Reverend Kenneth Stevenson, said: "I support anything that involves young people having fun as part of the church and congratulate these lads who have bared more than their souls to raise money for these charities."

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Jewish Rabbi's Take on "Holiday Trees"

This is an interesting viewpoint from Hirhurim Musings, a Jewish site devoted to discussing the Torah.

The US has lately had some controversy over municipal trees being called "Holiday Trees" instead of "Christmas Trees." Christians have objected to the name of their holiday being obscured in such an ambiguous term. In particular, Boston has been the site of a controversy this year over the naming of the tree. The man who donated the tree even said that had he known it would not be called a "Christmas Tree," he would not have given it to the city.

A representative of House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert said, "To rename a Christmas tree as a holiday tree is as offensive as renaming a Jewish menorah a candlestick" (link).

I'll go one step further. While Christians consider the renaming of the holiday symbol an affront to their religion, I find it offensive to my Judaism. The implication is that the tree is a symbol of the various holidays celebrated in America, most notably Hanukkah that generally falls out around the same time as the Christian holiday (particularly this year). The tree is not. It has nothing to do with Judaism, Hanukkah or any of our holidays. Regardless of its historical origin, the tree has come to be a symbol of one of the most important Christian holidays. Using an ambiguous term that implies it has significance to Judaism is, in my opinion, extremely offensive to Jews (and presumably members of other religions) and is simply inaccurate.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Does Christ Belong in Wal-Mart's Christmas?

My good friend and resident theologian Bruce Roberts brought something of interest to my attention the other day. It seems that a lot of fuss has been made the last few weeks over the decision of some major American retailers to "take Christ out of Christmas." This marketing decision (and make no mistake - it is purely financial) has caught the attention of all the major news markets and has made very deep inroads into the reactionary evangelical community. Many are up in arms and ready to "storm the gates of hell" or at least the customer service desk of Target. Here's a sample from the American Family Association:
Several retailers have joined in the push to ban the use of "Christmas" in their in-store promotions and retail advertising. The new push to eliminate "Christmas" and replace it with "Happy Holidays," "Season's Greetings," etc. is gaining ground with several retailers participating.

While it is too late to make changes this year, we have already sent letters to several major retailers we have identified as participating in banning "Christmas," asking them to put Christmas back into their in-store promotions and retail advertising next year. We have sent letters to the chairmen of Target, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Kmart/Sears, Costco, Kohl's and Lowe's about their practice. (Lowe's even refuses to promote their trees as Christmas trees, but calls them "Holiday Trees." Their toll-free number is 1-800-445-6937.)
That sounds alarming enough and probably raises the hackles of many of you. As for me, I find this humorous at best and embarrassing at its worst. Is this really the battle the Church of Jesus Christ is to fight on this earth? To fight WITH this world? Another has said it better than I could: "Isn't it interesting where we evangelicals often choose to draw battle lines with the world? We take personal offense when retailers make marketing decisions that have absolutely nothing to do with biblical standards of morality and yet heartily support them when they blatantly violate biblical standards."

I wish I had said this first but it is true: The world cares little about what we are against. To our shame, they also know little about what we are for.

I have asked this question a few other times regarding other subjects like "Justice Sunday" and the modern-day church's bent towards legislating morality by political and economic force - Why are we so concerned about unbelievers who don't honor God with their decisions? Why do we act so shocked that a secular world doesn't run its empire on the principles of the Bible? What do we want? Unbelievers who honor God? Is that even possible? Is it the aim of the church to build a society in which unbelievers live in full obedience to the biblical law. What if we succeed? What will we have accomplished? Not much - just a bunch of people who think they are doing good but are now twice as much the son of hell as they were before.

Let's think of it this way: Why are so many so upset that the retailers are no longer cheapening the glorious name of Christ in the name of making a few extra million dollars? Shouldn't we be glad that the name of Jesus is not pulled through the muck of this secularized holiday? The world has too long "USED" the church for financial gain. Yes, USED! If you don't believe me, think back to the marketing campaign for "The Passion of the Christ" and the upcoming "Narnia." I received a ton of free stuff from both movies asking us to hand out bookmarks and posters and other such things to get people to see the movie. Why did they ask me to do that? To save souls? To change lives? No, to stuff their pockets with our dollars! You can already get your Narnia action figures here! If taking someone to see the movie is evangelism, then giving them a six-inch plastic Aslan must guarantee results!

By the way, isn't "Narnia" produced by DISNEY? Weren't we boycotting them a little while back? What did they change so that now we are actively marketing for them? These movie companies are pimping the church out in some "grass-roots" campaign and we fall for it by rationalizing that these movies are the "best witnessing tools to come out in ages." Meanwhile, they count their millions and laugh at us! Sounds silly, doesn't it?

We have long anguished the fact that Christmas has become too commercialized (although Lifeway sure doesn't seem to mind selling its share of tawdry wares). Now that Christ is out of the commercialization, isn't the end result the same? The two are no longer equivalent. There is the secular side and, I suppose, the spiritual side remains somewhere. We probably just dont' recognize it.

Maybe we should be happy and rejoice that we can now celebrate the birth of our Savior without the cheapening effect of rushing past rabid shoppers while "Silver Bells" plays over the speakers as we fight for the last XBOX 360! Now we can join our families and churches in worship and singing and outreach and . . . wait, we want the commercialization as much as "they" do, don't we?

I find it hard to imagine the Apostle Paul getting riled up when Caesar refused to have some other apostle open the Colisseum gladiator games with a word of prayer. I am more incensed by the puny "prayers" read by local pastors off index cards before Panthers games, uttering nothing more than empty cliches and abundant "niceness." Can you see Peter writing a third epistle fussing about Caesar persecuting the church and calling for the elect scattered abroad to march on Rome? No, these men of God didn't fight the world with the world's weapons. And they were discerning enough to realize that those who are in the dark do not think like those of us who are in the light.

In our rush to play the fool's game of cursing the darkness, we fall into a very familiar trap. As Tom Ascol has said, "If I can point out how Christ-denying the world is then I can take some comfort in the thought that I am not that way. But isn't that the same tendency that our Lord condemned in the Pharisee in Luke 18? The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank You that I am not like other men--extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector."

He continues by saying, "Before we allow ourselves to get angry or depressed or disgusted with Christless celebrations of Christmas, we should ruthlessly evaluate our own lives. How Christ-centered am I? How Christ-focused are my thoughts? How Christ-saturated are my conversations? How Christ-honoring is my use of time? How Christ-exalting are my desires?"

Let's be honest - if we lived in the days of Christ's birth, we would have ruined it. We would have made pilgrimmages to that inn in Bethlehem, probably charging money with some of the day's best Christian talent singing new songs about the babe in the manger. We would have shorn some local sheep to make some wool shirts with catchy sayings - probably rhyming "reason" with "season." We would get into theological arguments about those crazy shepherds and their vision of talking angels. We would storm Herod's castle for his grisly practice of infanticide. Our burgeoning Christian empire would be booming. And all the while, we'd never notice that Joseph, Mary and Jesus had gone to Egypt.

"If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (Col 2:1-3).

PS - An interesting read is found here, where the writer examines just how other retailers take Christ out of Christmas and have been doing it for years.

PPS - I just went to and did a search using the word "Christmas." A total of 7,953 items appeared, including such traditional and deeply spiritual items as "A Chocolate Christmas" and "A Very Merry Kidz Bop Christmas" featuring the old-time classic "Go Christmas!"

Don't forget this stocking stuffer: "Nick Holiday" with Spongebob Squarepants singing "The Very First Christmas" and Jimmy Neutron "Basking in the Warmth of Christmas" and the Backyardigans declaring "Snow is Cold but I am Cool." Yes, this is worth fighting for!!!

Hey, I almost missed the "Jethro Tull Christmas Album." Jimmy Buffet has one, too - now there's a guy who knows the "Reason for the Season." This one beats them all, though - I give you Hugh Hefner's venture into our sacred holiday: Playboy's Latin Jazz Christmas. Aren't you glad Playboy uses the term "Christmas" instead of "Holiday."

It's getting late - I'm starting to get a little too cynical. Merry Holidays!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The SBC to FINALLY return to theology!

It has just been announced that Dr. Al Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, and Dr. Paige Patterson, President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, will hold a debate on the subject of Calvinism at the 2006 Pastor's Conference in Greensboro, NC. The Pastor's Conference is held in conjunction with the annual Southern Baptist Convention each summer.

This past summer, in Nashville, more than a few pastors spoke at the Pastor's Conference and made more than a few disparaging (and patently dishonest) statements against the Reformed doctrine of salvation. Click to read about the messages from Johnny Hunt and Jerry Falwell.

Tom Ascol of the Founder's Ministry has this to say on his website:
While some will no doubt be very nervous to hear about these plans, such a debate holds promise of accomplishing much good in SBC life.

Why do I say that? It is not because I am persuaded that "our side" will "win" such a debate. Nor is it because I think this event will expose errors in the anti-Calvinism schemes. Rather, I think this holds great hope for being beneficial for two reasons. First, it will be helpful simply because it will be a theological debate. Southern Baptists will actually be sponsoring an event that intentionally and formally is examining theological issues. Many Southern Baptists--especially younger Southern Baptists--are weary of the constant pep rallies for denominational programs that take up so much of the agenda at the annual SBC meeting. There is a great desire for something more substantive, something that examines foundational issues which have long been neglected by denominational leadership. A debate about Calvinism could well provide an opportunity for that to happen.

Secondly, I am hopeful about this announced event because Drs. Mohler and Patterson are friends. I fully expect that their exchange--regardless of how formal or informal the format--will provide a model for theological dialogue. Our day has all but lost the art (and Christian responsibility) of disagreeing strongly about important matters without writing your opponent out of the kingdom. This is especially true when the subject is Calvinism and it is equally true of those on both sides of the issue. An example of Christian leaders talking pointedly, pressing biblical arguments determinedly and disagreeing strongly (assuming that this will be the case) can only be a helpful thing for modern Southern Baptists. It will be great to see 2 Southern Baptist seminary presidents leading the way in this kind of effort.

I will make a couple of predictions: 1. This debate will draw larger crowds than any other session at the Pastors' Conference or the SBC meeting. 2. Some denominational leader will lament that fact. In addition, I would suspect that the average age of those attending the debate will be much younger than the average age that attends the 2 days of SBC meetings.
I do believe I will drive the 50 miles to attend.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Thomas Nelson continues to disappoint

James White goes apoplectic with the newest "Bible" from Thomas Nelson. I'll let you read his words, which can be found has his very informative Alpha & Omega website:

OK, I confess. This disgusts me. It offends me. I sit here wondering what on earth will be next. This is the utter prostitution of the text of Scripture, all in the name of money. What is it? A new publication from Thomas Nelson Publishers. Here's the link so you can see it up close. Click on the "See Larger Photo" link and read the incredible cover for yourself.

Can you imagine putting on the front of a "New Testament" ">>Sexcess: Success with the Opposite Sex!" Aside from using a children's version, I am simply offended that God's Holy Word, this awesome gift of grace that should cause us all to bow in reverence that God would deem it proper to communicate with us in such a manner as to give us light and direction and comfort, could be treated in such a shameful fashion. Shame on Thomas Nelson. What will we be subjected to next?
If you go to the link in White's comments, you will see Thomas Nelson's take on this "Bible." It reveals quite a bit about their opinion of Scripture:
Ever wish your Bible was as easy to pick up as your favorite magazine? Now there’s a new BibleZine™ created with today’s modern guy in mind. With an edgy, techo-savvy style and content that makes Biblical truth fresh and relevant, it might just make Bible reading the best part of your day. By putting one of the most readable versions of the Bible, the New Century Version®, together with articles about the topics you face everyday, we’ve created a ‘zine that will help you get deeper in the Bible, find out what God has to say for your life, and grow in your faith.
I don't really know anyone who has ever said, "The Bible is pretty good but it would be so much better if it was in magazine form." I just don't understand this. I'm trying but I can't.

I notice that the price isn't very "magazine-y" at $17! So, you can pay for a paper Bible that will become dog-eared very quickly if it is read with any sort of regularity and then what - disposed of, I imagine. Not the best use of money even if it is "relevant" for our sorrowful generation.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Repenting, Rethinking or Reloading?

The website of Bailey Smith has removed the "Soul-A-Month" program where you could give $48 each month and basically "guaratee" a soul will be saved for that amount. You can read more of this program in an earlier post.

To read more about some research into the page being removed from the Smith website, read this article from the Calvinist Gadfly.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

No Bias, huh???

The today Show goofed up. Read this embarrasing story from
In a deliciously ironic twist of fate, shortly before airing a segment aimed at embarrassing the Bush administration by suggesting that it had staged a video conversation between the president and soldiers in Iraq, the Today show was caught staging . . . a video stunt.
Today's timing couldn't have been worse. A preceding segment focused on the incessant rains and ensuing flooding in the northeast. For days now, beautiful, blonde - and one senses highly ambitious - young reporter Michelle Kosinski has been on the scene for Today in New Jersey, working the story. In an apparent effort to draw attention to herself, in yesterday's segment she turned up in hip waders, standing thigh-deep in the flood waters.

Taking her act one step further, this morning she appeared on a suburban street . . . paddling a canoe. There was one small problem. Just as the segment came on the air, two men waded in front of Kosinki . . . and the water barely covered their shoe tops! That's right, Kosinski's canoe was in no more than four to six inches of water!

An embarrassed Kosinski claimed the water was deeper down the street but that her producers didn't want to let her go there for fear she'd drift away. But Katie and Matt, perhaps peeved by her attempted scene-stealing, couldn't resist ribbing her.

Matt: "Are these holy men, perhaps walking on top of the water?"

"Gee, is your oar hitting ground, Michelle?" inquired Katie, as she and Matt dissolved into laughter.

Just so your don't think the obvious - repeat after me: THERE IS NO LIBERAL BIAS IN THE NEWS MEDIA!!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Modern Day Tetzel???

Well-known Southern Baptist evangelist Bailey Smith has a remarkable "ministry opportunity" posted on his website. He invites individuals to join the SOUL-A-MONTH CLUB. I'll let Smith explain:

Many times a year I will hear someone say, "I'm not in the ministry, I'm just a layman." We all know that Christian lay people are a vital part of the ministry also, in a very important way.

May I share a ministry all can be a part of and I believe, should be, because of its need in this pagan generation? It is the Soul-A-Month Ministry.

I was at Peace Baptist Church in Wilson, N.C. and made the statement that for every $48.00 given to Bailey Smith Ministries someone will get saved. A couple after the service said to me, "Why don't you start a Soul-A-Month club. We would like to send you $48.00 a month." Ministry born!

Years ago, I read of a ship that had gone down in the Atlantic and a part of the cargo was a large cross to be delivered to a new church. It was floating in the water and a crew member of the sunken ship climbed on the cross to save his life and he was reaching out to get others to the cross. Wow!

I asked a graphic artist to draw me a picture of that and here it is - don't you love it? It grabs my heart every time I look at it.

See yourself saved by the cross and with $48.00 a month you are bringing someone drowning in sin to safety. What a privilege and responsibility.

You can email or call our office for a free envelope. Please keep this envelope in an upright visible place. Sandy and I lean our big envelope against the wall at our desk where we write our check. It will bless you just to see it, and then take the appropriate envelope and mail it to see a soul saved each month.

No, don't reach out to touch someone - reach out to save someone by helping them to the cross of the Lord Jesus. Of course, your $48.00 each month to save a soul is tax-deductible.

Yours for souls,

Dr. Bailey Smith

P.S. - By the way with, some churches it cost $100,000 to $300,000 to see one convert.

Please make your check to Bailey Smith Ministry. Some are giving $96.00 a month representing a soul for the husband and wife.
I have to wonder - Just how does Bailey Smith understand salvation? Another has said well that
the new birth is the sovereign work of the Spirit whom, Jesus said, is like the wind that blows wherever it chooses? (John 3:8).

What would Nicodemus think of this understanding as compared to the words of Christ - that the new birth is the work of the Holy Spirit, going as far as He can go on $48.

It appears that the SBC's insatiable appetite for numbers has led us down a very dark path. Pragmatism now reigns supreme - "if it works it's from God." Tom Ascol makes a poignant comment in response to this, saying:
When I read Mr. Smith's letter my mind immediately went back to the 16th century:
As soon as the coin in the coffer rings
Another soul into heaven springs.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Another Prominent SBC Pastor Theologizes - Shamefully!

I recently listened to a sermon by Dr. Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. Graham is the pastor to over 24,000 individuals. He has a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from the same institution (as far as I can tell from the website). So, it is obvious Dr. Graham is educated.

However, in this recent sermon, he demonstrated a complete lack of understanding on the very topic on which he spoke. The sermon is titled "The Truth About Grace" and it is your basic screed railing against the evils of the Doctrines of Grace. This is not unusual; men like Adrian Rogers and Dave Hunt have been preaching these types of sermons for the last couple years.

What makes this sermon so unique is the incredible amount of misreprestentations and false statements that Dr. Graham was able to put into this sermon. You have to wait until about the seventeen-minute mark before he really gets going. However, once he starts, the amount of falsehoods uttered is simply staggering.

I am sure it was a very persuasive sermon in hardening more hearts against the truth of Scripture. The audience applauded several times. Yet, Graham said nothing of substance. Everything he said was an utter misrepresentation of the Calvinist position.

Sadly, it reveals that Dr. Graham has done absolutely NO study in this field except from reading like-minded individuals and repeating their own straw-man arguments.

Others have commented at length on this sermon and I direct you to them:

  1. Tom Ascol at Founders Ministry
  2. Tom Ascol at Founders Ministry, Part 2
  3. James White critiques the sermon, Part 1
  4. James White critiques the sermon, Part 2
  5. James White critiques the sermon, Part 3

I truly hope you will take the time to read and listen to these examinations of Graham's Scripture twisting caricatures. I can't respond to every single misstatement but here are a few "low-lights":

"This past week I led a decision service for our 3rd-6th graders in our Bible school. I was able to look at those children and tell them that, 'God loves you. Jesus died for you,' that 'Jesus loves all the little children of the world.' Yet, according to this theological system that is so aggressively taught in some sectors of Christianity today, I would honestly have to look at many of those little boys and girls with their bright eyes and beautiful faces and warm hearts, I would have to look at them and say, 'No! God has chosen you but God may not have chosen you, God loves you but I can't tell you that God loves you. God loves this one but He doesn't love that one. God has chosen and predestined that one to be saved and God has predestined that one to be lost....'"

I defy Jack Graham to produce ONE Reformed theologian who has EVER written, preached or even BELIEVED such things. This is nothing but pure emotional manipulation of his congregation in order to "poison the well." You will never hear any preacher, no matter how many "points" he claims, preach such monstrous words - especially to children. He has not dealt at all with the issues and has completely (purposefully?) misrepresented the Calvinist position. I find it hard to believe that in this church of 24,000 individuals that NO ONE will call him to accountability for such abysmal reasoning.

"Unbelievers can believe or they can not believe. They can receive the gospel and be saved or they can reject the gospel and be condemned. Somebody says but wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute, doesn't God have to give us even the faith to believe? You will hear this often. Because we are so dead and depraved in sin God has to give us even the faith to believe. He has to regenerate us before we can even believe in Him. Now thats a little backwards, isn't it?... But that is the way this logic--or illogic--goes. God has to regenerate you before you can ever say, I receive Christ. No the Bible says believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. You say but doesn't God have to give us faith to be saved. Didn't you say salvation is of the Lord? Absolutely. Even our faith comes from God. And guess what? Romans 12:3 says that God has given to every man, to all men a measure of faith. Every person has been given by God this faculty this opportunity to believe."

Whoa, hold on a minute. Dr. Graham is neck-deep in some very serious interpretational and homiletical errors. I am sure he would disapprove of anyone (on any other subject but this one) just flinging Bible verses out there without any sense of context. To do so is to be able to prove ANYTHING - which just might be the purpose. However, this passage is dealing with the CHURCH, not all of humanity (saved and unsaved).

Paul begins this chapter by saying, "I appeal to you therefore, brothers . . .." Then, in verse three (the verse Graham quotes), Paul says, "Therefore, ...." He then goes on to talk about the one body of Christ and how we are all members of that body. If verse three is dealing with the "faith" that God has allegedly given to every single person in the history of the world, then every single person in the history of the world is a member of the single body of Christ. Come on - this is first-year stuff here.

Furthermore, this "exegesis" of Graham's is rebuffed outright by Scripture in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, where Paul (the same author) says, "pray . . . that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored . . . and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith." So, in one place God gives all men faith and in another, not all men have faith?!? We have an honest-to-goodness contradiction here!

IF you listen to the entire sermon, take note the pejorative nature of much of the terminology: elitist, arrogant, perverted, abusive, slanderous, prideful, blasphemous, aberrant. As another has written, add "anathema" and you'd have the Council of Trent.

At one point, Graham says:

"Now that’s a little backwards, isn't it?... But that is the way this logic--or illogic--goes. God has to regenerate you before you can ever say, I receive Christ."

Dr Graham would have to admit he is in disagreement with the Baptist Faith and Message. Article 4 of this 2000 document directly contradicts Graham, which he voted for in 1999 at the SBC. It says:

"Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God's grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace."

You must note that in this statement that regeneration occurs and then the sinner "responds in repentance . . . and faith."

Dr. Graham continues with this remarkable paragraph:

"So I believe and reject these aberrant theologies because of the character of God and because of the cross of Christ that Jesus died for all men and he will therefore bring unto himself all who will be saved. He said, if I will be lifted up I will draw all men unto myself. Now when he draws all men some will come in faith and some will come in unbelief. Remember when Jesus was facing the cross and he prayed over the city of Jerusalem and as he looked over the city and the lostness of people there, he wept over with copious tears, sobs and heaves are described in the Scripture when it says that Jesus wept over that city. And he cried out, 'O Jerusalem Jerusalem, how I would have gathered you to myself as a hen gathers her chicks. But you would not.' Not you 'could not' but you 'would not.'"

Graham misinterprets one passage and misquotes the other.

First, John 12:32 says "I will draw ALL MEN to myself." After reading this verse, most will say, "See, Jesus is drawing everybody. Not just the elect." Once again, we see the danger of reading a single Bible verse out of context. Go back up to verse 20, where you read that "Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus." That is key - GREEKS (non-Jews) were now seeking Jesus. In response to this new attention, Jesus then says "All men" which obviously means all "kinds" of men - not JUST JEWS!

This line of interpretation has serious implications when you consider Jesus' words in the sixth chapter. He says, "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away." So, according to Dr. Graham, every single individual will come because Christ has drawn every single individual. He even says "some will come in faith, some will come in unbelief." Besides the fact that that statement is ridiculous (because in John's gospel "come" is equated with "believe"), Jesus says all that come (no qualifiers) will be raised up. So, if Dr. Graham is going to be internally consistent, he has just taught thousands in his church the gospel of universalism. He would quickly deny that belief but he has just taught it, albeit indirectly.

Secondly, in Matthew 23, Jesus does not say "gather you" but "gather your children." That is important. Jesus has spent most of Chapter 23 totally denouncing the religious leaders of the Jews. He is not offering His divine thoughts on the process of salvation. Instead, Jesus is rebuking the Pharisees for one more error: failing to preach the truth of the Word of God. "The Children" here are the Jews that the Pharisees kept locked into the ritualistic religion.

Thirdly, if you want to read some verses that truly talk about "could not" or "can not" instead of "would not" or "will not," I direct you to these words of Christ and His servant Paul:

"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:44

"This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him." John 6:55

"The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so." Romans 8:6-7

"The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." I Corinthians 2:14

This is why regeneration must come first. Lost man has no capacity to understand, much less act, on the preaching of the gospel. It is "foolishness" to him unless God quickens him by replacing that heart of stone with a new heart of flesh.

Finally, Graham begins to close the sermon with these words:

"No one is here by accident."

Really? He can't have it both ways!

To end on a positive note, it appears that Graham has simply made an all-too-common error. He is diligent to protect his flock from error. However, this in no way excuses the laziness in the pastor's study and the misrepresentation in the pulpit.

The problem is that he is preaching against the "wrong error." From this perspective, Graham and Vines and Rogers and Lemke and Welch and others cannot see a significant difference between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism. In all of their descriptions of "Calvinism," one can see that they are really describing hyper-Calvinism. It's right and good to fear and reject hyper-Calvinism. It is not even rightly called Calvinism of any sort - it is not even Christian. It's a blasphemous theology.

However, they fail to make important distinctions, both historically and theologically. The same thing could happen if reformed believers broad-brushed and smeared Arminians as Open View Theists. It would be unfair and dishonest, whether we realize it or not. This is an intramural debate. Why treat one another as outsiders?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Untold Tale of the Purpose-Driven Crime-Stopper

Remember the woman who foiled a kidnapping (?) by reading "The Purpose-Driven Life" to the criminal? She has recently signed up for a book and movie about the situation.

What you didn't know is that she possibly knew the criminal beforehand, she did give the criminal methamphetamines while in her house (because she was out of marijuana) and that the criminal she witnessed to turned to Islam while in prison.

You can read more be clicking HERE!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

A Semi-Pelagian Catechsim

Almost always true, mostly funny, sometimes sadly recognizable!

1. Q: What is the chief end of each individual Christian?
A: Each individual Christian's chief end is to get saved. This is the first and great commandment.

2. Q: And what is the second great commandment?
A: The second, which is like unto it, is to get as many others saved as he can.

3. Q: What one work is required of thee for thy salvation?
A: It is required of me for my salvation that I make a Decision for Christ, which meaneth to accept Him into my heart to be my personal lord'n'saviour.

4. Q: At what time must thou perform this work?
A: I must perform this work at such time as I have reached the Age of Accountability.

5. Q: At what time wilt thou have reached this Age?
A: That is a trick question. In order to determine this time, my mind must be sharper than any two-edged sword, able to pierce even to the division of bone and marrow; for, alas, the Age of Accountability is different for each individual, and is thus unknowable.

6. Q: By what means is a Decision for Christ made?
A: A Decision for Christ is made, not according to His own purpose and grace which was given to me in Christ Jesus before the world began, but according to the exercise of my own Free Will in saying the Sinner's Prayer in my own words.

7. Q: If it be true then that man is responsible for this Decision, how then can God be sovereign?
A: He cannot be. God sovereignly chose not to be sovereign, and is therefore dependent upon me to come to Him for salvation. He standeth outside the door of my heart, forlornly knocking, until such time as I Decide to let Him in.

8. Q: How then can we make such a Decision, seeing that the Scripture saith, we are dead in our trespasses and sins?
A: By this the Scripture meaneth, not that we are dead, but only that we are sick or injured in them.

9. Q: What is the assurance of thy salvation?
A: The assurance of thy salvation is, that I know the date on which I prayed the Sinner's Prayer, and have duly written this date on an official Decision card.

10. Q: What is thy story? What is thy song?
A: Praising my Savior all the day long.

11. Q: You ask me how I know he lives?
A: He lives within my heart.

12. Q: And what else hast thou got in thine heart?
A: I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.

13. Q: Where??
A: Down in my heart!

14. Q: Where???
A: Down in my heart!!

15. Q: What witness aid hath been given us as a technique by which we may win souls?
A: The tract known commonly as the Four Spiritual Laws, is the chief aid whereby we may win souls.

16. Q: What doth this tract principally teach?
A: The Four Spiritual Laws principally teach, that God's entire plan for history and the universe centereth on me, and that I am powerful enough to thwart His divine purpose if I refuse to let Him pursue His Wonderful Plan for my life.

17. Q: What supplementary technique is given by which we may win souls?
A: The technique of giving our own Personal Testimony, in the which we must always be ready to give an answer concerning the years we spent in vanity and pride, and the wretched vices in which we wallowed all our lives until the day we got saved.

18. Q: I'm so happy, what's the reason why?
A: Jesus took my burden all away!

19. Q: What are the means given whereby we may save large crowds of souls in a spectacular manner?
A: Such a spectacle is accomplished by means of well-publicized Crusades and Revivals which (in order that none may be loath to attend) are best conducted anywhere else but in a Church.

20. Q: Am I a soldier of the Cross?
A: I am a soldier of the Cross if I join Campus Crusade, Boys' Brigade, the Salvation Army, or the Wheaton Crusaders; of if I put on the helmet of Dispensationalism, the breastplate of Pietism, the shield of Tribulationism, and the sword of Zionism, having my feet shod with the gospel of Arminianism.

21. Q: Who is your boss?
A: My boss is a Jewish carpenter.

22. Q: Hath God predestined vessels of wrath to Hell?
A: God hath never performed such an omnipotent act, for any such thing would not reflect His primary attribute, which is Niceness.

23. Q: What is sanctification?
A: Sanctification is the work of my free Will, whereby I am renewed by having my Daily Quiet Time.

24. Q: What rule hath God for our direction in prayer?
A: The rule that we must bow our hands, close our heads, and fold our eyes.

25. Q: What doth the Lord's Prayer teach us?
A: The Lord's Prayer teacheth us that we must never memorize a prayer, or use one that hath been written down.

26. Q: What's the book for thee?
A: The B-I-B-L-E.

27. Q: Which are among the first books which a Christian should read to his soul's health?
A: Among the first books which a Christian should read are the books of Daniel and Revelation, and The Late Great Planet Earth.

28. Q: Who is on the Lord's side?
A: He who doth support whatsoever is done by the nation of Israel, and who doth renounce the world, the flesh, and the Catholic Church.

29. Q: What are the seven deadly sins?
A: The seven deadly sins are smoking, drinking, dancing, card-playing, movie-going, baptizing babies, and having any creed but the Bible.

30. Q: What is a sacrament?
A: A sacrament is an insidious invention devised by the Catholic Church whereby men are drawn into idolatry.

31. Q: What is the Lord's Supper?
A: The Lord's Supper is a dispensing of saltines and grape juice, in which we remember Christ's command to pretend that they are His body and blood.

32. Q: What is baptism?
A: Baptism is the act whereby, by the performance of something that seems quite silly in front of everyone, I prove that I really, really mean it.

33. Q: What is the Church?
A: The Church is the tiny minority of individuals living at this time who have Jesus in their hearts, and who come together once a week for a sermon, fellowship and donuts.

34. Q: What is the office of the keys?
A: The office of the keys is that office held by the custodian.

35. Q: What meaneth "The Priesthood Of All Believers"?
A: The Priesthood Of All Believers meaneth that there exists no authority in the Church, as that falsely thought to be held by elders, presbyters, deacons, and bishops, but that each individual Christian acts as his own authority in all matters pertaining to the faith.

36. Q: Who is the Holy Spirit?
A: The Holy Spirit is a gentleman who would never barge in.

37. Q: How long hath the Holy Spirit been at work?
A: The Holy Spirit hath been at work for more than a century: expressly, since the nineteenth-century Revitalization brought about by traveling Evangelists carrying tents across America.

38. Q: When will be the "Last Days" of which the Bible speaketh?
A: The "Last Days" are these days in which we are now living, in which the Antichrist, the Beast, and the Thief in the Night shall most certainly appear.

39. Q: What is the name of the event by which Christians will escape these dreadful entities?
A: The event commonly known as the Rapture, in that which it is our Blessed Hope that all cars driven by Christians will suddenly have no drivers.

40. Q: When is Jesus coming again?
A: Maybe morning, maybe noon, maybe evening, and maybe soon.

41. Q: When the roll, roll, roll, is called up yonder, where will you be?
A: There.

42. Q: Hallelu, hallelu, hallelu, hallelujah!
A: Praise ye the Lord!

43. Q: Praise ye the Lord!
A: Hallelujah!

44. Q: Where will we meet again?
A: Here, there, or in the air.

45. Q: Can I hear an Ay-men?
A: Ay-men.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Washington Nationals Fire Chaplain

The chaplain of the Washington Nationals recently "brought hate" into the baseball team's clubhouse when he responded to a players question regarding the fate of Jews.
According to an article published Sunday in The Washington Post, Nationals outfielder Ryan Church said he asked [Chaplain] Moeller if Jews are "doomed" because they do not believe in Jesus. Church said Moeller nodded, the Post reported.

"The Nationals did a good job about bringing hate into the locker room," said Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, who leads the city's oldest Orthodox synagogue, Ohev Sholom Talmud Torah.
That's it? That constitutes HATE these days. A protestant clergyman agreeing that if a Jewish man does not believe in Jesus Christ then that Jewish man will not be in heaven. How was he supposed to answer? Reasonable people should be able to see that Christianity is mutually exclusive from every other religion in the world.

On the same hand, so is Islam and every other religion. I wonder what would have happened if a Muslim chaplain (do they have those?) had been asked the same question in the same setting? He would have had to have said the same thing, wouldn't he?

How would Rabbi Herzfeld answer the question about Muslims or even atheists? How "hateful" would he be? I guess it depends on how orthodox he truly was - how far has he abandoned the faith given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? The God he claims to worship also commands him "Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." Unless he believes Allah and YHWH are different names for the same Divine Being, then he wuold have to "bring hate" into the equation as well.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

How to speak to a human being

If you are anything like me, you detest working your way through the computerized phone menus of our mega-companies. All you want to do is figure out the discrepancy on your phone bill but you have to press 4 to get to another menu where you have to press 2 and then you . . .


Go here to get some shortcuts through the menus of many of the most widely used companies.

Here is Dell Computer's "shortcut" to talk to a real live human being: option 1, xt 7266966, option 1, option 4, option 4

Dig a hole to China

Did you ever attempt something like this when you were a kid: grab a shovel and start digging in your backyard, thinking you would dig to the other side of the world. Now, you can go to this Google Map and find out where you'd come out on the other side.

HINT: If you live in Statesville, I must warn you to not do it. Your backyard will be flooded when you open up a hole in the Indian Ocean a couple hundred miles off the coast of Australia!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Church is NOT a building

I hope you'll read this encouraging and sobering account of a church recovering down in Louisiana! It reminds us of the important lesson that the church is not the building we meet in during the week and on Sunday. The church is the people of God who gather to worship anywhere and everywhere!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Even athiests know liberal Christians are mixed up

Here's an interesting post on Touchstone's blog that says what conservatives already know: liberal Christians are internally inconsistent.

The Left's Hatred of The Book

The president of Thomas Nelson recently announced that his company was going to donate a lot of money and a lot more Bibles (100,000 of them, to be exact). You can read that here and in this excerpt:
We will donate 100,000 Bibles to the relief efforts. Why Bibles? This afternoon, an official in Baton Rouge said on Fox News, “We need water, food, ... and Bibles.” This is something I knew we could help with. Samaritan's Purse, an organization headed by Franklin Graham, one of our authors, has agreed to distribute these for us. We will begin shipping them to Louisiana as soon as we get instructions from Samaritan’s Purse.
Amazingly, but predictably, this has set off a firestorm of protests from the Left. Some of the vitriol spilled over this issue is truly mindboggling until you get theological and remember that these people are unregenerate and haters of God. They are doing only that which comes natural to them.

Here is a sample of the responses: (Click here and here to read more!)

My God. The man has no shame. People are starving and dying of thirst and the best he can do is Bibles for people who live in the Bible belt. They wouldn't even be able to use them for kindling because they don't need fires to keep warm in the New Orleans heat. Why doesn't he just challenge his customers to buy Bibles on-line and contribute a percentage of sales to the Red Cross?

If they don't use the bibles for kindling, you know, to boil the water before drinking it, they can always use the pages for toilet paper once dysentery sets in. That's why they call it The Good Book.

Whatever, each to their own thing! If some folks think it’s a sensible priority to provide Katrina refugees a book full of contradictions, scientific absurdities, primitive superstitions, hoary old myths, a book replete with vile atrocities…well that’s their call… . If some of said refugees concur that’s also just dandy.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Tony Campolo continues his slide into heresy

Discussion of disasters brings out either the best in the church or the worst. Tony Campolo is an example of the latter. Over at Belief.Net, he writes this:
Whenever there is a catastrophe, some religious people inevitably ask, "Why didn’t God do something? Where was God when all those people died?"

Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad answers. One such answer is that somehow all suffering is a part of God’s great plan. In the midst of agonies, someone is likely to quote from the Bible, telling us that if we would just be patient, we eventually would see "all things work together for the good, for those who love God, and are called according to His purposes." (Romans 8:28)

There are still other religionists who take the opportunity to tell us that God is punishing America for its many sins.

Perhaps we would do well to listen to the likes of Rabbi Harold Kushner, who contends that God is not really as powerful as we have claimed. Nowhere in the Hebrew Scriptures does it say that God is omnipotent. Kushner points out that omnipotence is a Greek philosophical concept, but it is not in his Bible. Instead, the Hebrew Bible contends that God is mighty. That means that God is a greater force in the universe than all the other forces combined.
Campolo should heed his own advice, because later in the same article he says, "Personally, I contend that the best thing for us to do in the aftermath of Katrina is to remain silent, and not try to explain this tragedy."

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Chief Justice Rehnquist has passed away

CNN is reporting that Chief Justice Rehnquist has passed away. This is a clarion call for the evangelical church to once more fulfill its true purpose and gather for "JUSTICE SUNDAY III" to throw our political weight around and help God save this country!

Now, if I can only get my tongue out of my cheek!


It's been a while since I posted anything to this site. To be perfectly honest, two particular things have been occupying my attention the last several days:
  1. A course taught in our church's Equipping University on the Rapture. I spent a few weeks presenting a positive case for pretrib, midtrib, pre-wrath and posttrib. I had never spend much time studying eschatology, preferring to rely on my tradition as a premillenial pretrib dispensationalist. I still am not sure exactly what I believe but I now know what I do NOT believe - the pretribulation rapture!
  2. Preparing for the draft of the 2005 Western Avenue Fantasy Football League (the WAFFL). This three year old league is getting stronger each year and more fun, as well. We held our draft on August 30. I would blog a LOT on this but I doubt any of you (or should that say EITHER of you) care.
There have been several things that have caught my eye and are blog-worthy, including a recent sermon by Prestonwood's Jack Graham, a new competition called something like "American Gospel Idol" or some such nonsense, Hurrican Katrina and God's role/purpose in all that happened and is happening in New Orleans and some interesting stuff coming out of Rick Warren's Saddleback Church.

Maybe I'll get back here soon and discuss some of these things.
Maybe later.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

John MacArthur shines on Larry King once again

Larry King invited several to discuss creationism. It was a strange hybrid show with some "infotainment" thrown in with the serious issue. Here's how King introduced the show:
Tonight, Olivia Newton-John's long time boyfriend vanished almost seven weeks ago. Why were authorities not contacted until five days after he was due to return from an overnight fishing trip? And what's the latest on the investigation? We'll ask Scott Epperson with the U.S. Coast Guard, Christine Spiteri, reporter with Channel 9 in Olivia Newton-John's native Australia. Jim Moret, chief correspondent for Inside Edition and more. And then, is it God versus science? After creationism versus evolution, now debate rages over intelligent design with even the president stepping in.
Here's the panel invited to the "debate":
  • John MacArthur, pastor, teacher at the Grace Community Church; author of "The Battle for the Beginning: Creation, Evolution and the Bible;" host of "Grace to You" and president of the Master's College and founder of the Master's Seminary.
  • Barbara Forrest, Ph.D. Barbara is the author of "Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design." She is professor of philosophy, Southeastern Louisiana University, National Advisory Council of the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.
  • Deepak Chopra, the best selling author of "How to Know God," and founder of the Chopra Center. His blog site,, now has a discussion on the topic of creation versus evolution, including lengthy comments by Deepak.
  • Senator Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas, who supports the president's position on teaching intelligent design as well as evolution, favors teaching both.
  • Congressman Chris Shays, Republican of Connecticut, who disagrees with the president on the teaching of intelligent design.
  • Dr. Jay Richards, vice president of the Discovery Institute, a conservative think tank at the forefront in promoting the intelligent design theory.
The first question went right to MacArthur. He was asked, "John MacArthur, do you believe that the world is only 5,000 years old?"

MacArthur once again handled himself with amazing aplomb and stayed true to the Bible and gave no quarter to anyone. You can read the entire transcript of the show by clicking on the link above (but scroll about halfway down to bypass the earth-shattering and mind-blowing "news" of a missing person - what about the other thousands of missing persons? This one is famous because of a relationship with Olivia Newton-John?)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Top 500 Universities in the World, Academically Speaking

The Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Institute of Higher Education did an extensive survey of the top five hundred universities based on several fields. It's interesting that the university doing this research finished 301st - they must have been very disappointed.

The fields studied carried different weights that led to the university's final scoring. The fields are listed below:

Quality of Education
Alumni of an institution winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals
Quality of Faculty
Staff of an institution winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals
Highly cited researchers in 21 broad subject categories
Research Output
Articles published in Nature and Science*
Articles in Science Citation Index-expanded, Social Science Citation Index, and Arts & Humanities Citation Index
Size of Institution
Academic performance with respect to the size of an institution


As for the results, seventeen of the Top 20 universities are located in the United States. Only Cambridge, Oxford and Tokyo University crack the top twenty internationally.

As you might expect, Harvard earned the top spot with a perfect score of 100 points. Cambridge was second, followed by Stanford, Cal-Berkeley and MIT.

For our local schools,
  • Duke is 37th with a score of 37.7 (surrounded by Northwestern and Minnesota);
  • UNC-Chapel Hill is 55th with a score of 30.3 (surrounded by Carnegie Mellon and Australian National U.);
  • NC State is 113th with a score of 19 (surrounded by the National U. of Singapore and Oregon State);
  • University of South Carolina is 280th;
  • Wake Forest is 296th; .
With all these top-notch universities in the USA, why does the world think we are so stupid? Are we?